Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he still has “a great deal” of confidence in RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and denies her government exerted “any undue influence or pressure” on the National Police investigation into the shooting of 2020 in Nova Scotia.
“We did not exert any undue influence or pressure. It is extremely important to emphasize that it is only the RCMP, it is only the police who determine what and when to release information,” Trudeau said. “I still have a lot of… trust in Commissioner Lucki.”
Despite the denial, the issue was front and center during the final question period of the spring sitting, and MPs voted Thursday in favor of a summer study of the issue.
The government and Commissioner Lucki have come under scrutiny for their involvement in the case, after allegations emerged on Tuesday that the federal government used the worst mass shooting in Canadian history. to advance a new gun ban.
According to documents released as part of the Mass Casualty Commission, at a meeting 10 days after the murderous rampage that left 22 people dead, Chief Mountie Lucki expressed disappointment with the division’s handling of press briefings. Nova Scotia, as she wanted them to release accurate information about the firearms used by the author.
In handwritten notes, Nova Scotia RCMP Superintendent Darren Campbell wrote that Lucki indicated that she promised then-Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and the Prime Minister’s Office that the RCMP would release this information, and that it was related to ongoing gun control legislation intended to make officers and the public safer.
At the time, the Nova Scotia RCMP – which had been under close scrutiny for its handling of the case from the start – said releasing further information would jeopardize the investigation by course on the abuser’s access to firearms.
A few days later, the Prime Minister announced a ban on 1,500 assault weapons, including the weapons used in the shootings in Nova Scotia. Moving forward with gun control measures was a pre-existing Liberal commitment, dating back to their 2019 election campaign.
Echoing denials from Blair and Lucki — who wrote in a statement that while she regretted the way she approached the meeting, she would never jeopardize an RCMP investigation — Trudeau also told reporters that, even if the government had not intervened, they had questions.
“I will point out, however, that when the worst mass shooting in Canadian history happened, we had a lot of questions. Canadians had many questions. And I got regular briefings on what we knew, what we didn’t know. answers continue to come out, even as the public inquiry is ongoing,” the prime minister said, in a scrum with reporters traveling with him for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda.
During Question Period, Blair said he was not a party to the discussions that took place between the commissioner and her subordinates, amid suggestions from Tories that the government was casting doubt on his accounts of his interaction with Lucki .
“I have absolutely no doubt that the Superintendent is an exemplary officer, and I in no way question his integrity. I would simply like to remind this House that the fact is that there was no interference in this case,” Blair said.
Following calls from opposition parties asking the government to provide a full statement of facts related to the case, the House of Commons National and Public Safety Committee is expected to look into the matter within a month.
At their final meeting before the end of the spring sitting, committee MPs voted to study allegations of political interference in the RCMP investigation and communications. The committee plans to hold a four-hour meeting on July 25 or as soon as the House of Commons pre-scheduled interview period ends.
At this meeting, the intention is to include three groups of witnesses. The first would see Superintendent Campbell and other RCMP officials in Nova Scotia testify; the second would include Commissioner Lucki and her deputy, and the third would be Blair and Deputy Minister of Public Safety Robert Stewart.
The Conservatives had wanted the hearing to include the testimony of an official from the Prime Minister’s Office, but this proposal was not supported.
“We felt it was very important to have someone from the Prime Minister’s Office come and respond…Liberal MPs led the way in making sure that didn’t happen today. They also paved the way in ensuring that this meeting does not happen for another month,” Conservative MP and public safety spokesperson Raquel Dancho said at the meeting.
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